As some of us walked, another team was doing drama and dance presentations in schools and in public squares. In Padre Paraiso, and Catuji 50km south, following their presentations, many young girls approached team members telling them about how they were being abused or exploited and asking for help.
We knew following that walk that we needed to begin our next projects in these two towns.
We started our new work in Padre Paraiso in January, but we knew we wouldn't have the resources for some time to begin and maintain a project in Catuji, even though we knew there were so many girls in desperate need there.
Then, a few months ago, Catuji's mayor, Fuvio Luziano, made contact with us out of the blue. He had heard of our work in the region, and he wanted us to start a Pink House in his town too. He said he too was desperately worried about the young girls in his municipality, and asked us to consider beginning a project there as soon as possible.
We haven't been able to share about this until the mayor's plans were put to councillors at a meeting of Catuji's town council, but now we can. Not only will Catuji be paying the monthly utility bills of our new project, and providing a social worker and psychologist, they have also given us a building which will be our new Pink House!
And in the council meeting the Meninadança project plans were voted into law, which means the Pink House will remain in the town whoever becomes the next mayor or makes up the next council.
The house (above) sits on the edge of the BR-116 as it cuts through the town. We'll be painting the building pink, and an illuminated Meninadança sign will soon be visible to everyone driving along the motorway.
On Friday our team in Belo Horizonte welcomed the town's culture secretary and cabinet secretary to our offices as plans continue apace (photo above). Over the last months we have had other meetings with the mayor and other ministers, both in Catuji and Belo Horizonte. We hope to open the doors of our new Pink House as early as next month.
With our other projects we have initially faced indifference or even hostility from the local authorities. We are so excited and looking forward to doing things differently this time, with a local council and mayor who appear committed to improving the lives of young vulnerable girls.
More news coming soon!